ICOM NATHIST is delighted to announced that it has signed up to the Bouchout Declaration supporting freedom of data for the biological sciences. This is an important initiative and aligns well with ICOM’s Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums.
Their background to the Declaration (excerpted):
Biology must manage and take advantage of the rapid increase in the quantity of data available to science because of new instruments, monitoring programs, or mandates from funding agencies. The internet increasingly acts as a large pool of data. With new tools to organise, analyse, and visualise content, scientists can move more quickly than before, set higher standards, address problems of a grander scale, or spark new styles of research. These improvements will increase the visibility of the biodiversity scientists and make what we do more relevant. The big data world will lead to better quality research because scientists will have access to more information, because they will be openly able to comment on or enhance data, allowing questionable content to be corrected. Those who improve the quality of data are expected to gain credit for their efforts when the information is re-used. The Bouchout Declaration is an opportunity for those organizations, initiatives and individuals who create, manage and use biodiversity information, and who believe in the opportunities and potential of the big data world, to declare their support of the Open Access agenda. By endorsing the principles of Open Access and discoverability of data, the signatories strengthen the arguments that will be put to governments and funding bodies, and will accelerate the maturation and evolution of Open Biodiversity Knowledge Management, making biodiversity sciences more relevant, innovative, and responsive to societal needs.